November 23, 2012

Black Friday

I don't know about you, but I have never been one to hit the after Thanksgiving Day sales. I never had any money to spend, so it seemed like a waste of my time to stand in line for hours, just to browse through crowed aisles and to fight off other people so I could wish for some particular item. No, for me, I never was able to participate, and so I left the craziness up to those folks (and family) who liked this shopping ritual.

My brother and family had this holiday ritual, and every Black Friday, would get up at the crack of dawn (or before) and head out to their local Target store. It was a tradition for them. I am not sure if they are observing it this year or not. The whole family (sans newly married nephew and wife) are back in Cedar Falls, Iowa visiting my niece who works for Northern Iowa University. I'll have to ask if they even have a Target in Cedar Falls! LOL!

As I sit here today, part of me is feeling blue over the impending Holiday madness. Last year at this time, I was resolved to move from my home, and I had just rented a nearby townhouse. It was difficult for me, but I was thankful for the change of house. I had been in my old home since 1999, and while it was not always a struggle for us to maintain our life there, most of the time I felt burdened with the upkeep of a home, and with the escalating payments and other homeowner issues. Moreover, we were at the point of separating, and the house was the last thing holding us together. We had been foreclosed on by our lender, and the time was coming (looming forward) when we would all have to be out of the house. I chose to go early on, and so my first Thanksgiving was here in my new place. My first Christmas was as well.

Christmas was good last year. I was working at University of Phoenix, and I was so glad to have a full-time job. I was happy to be out of the old house, out of the dirt and grime, and untended maintenance items. I was glad to be in a place that was new, freshly painted, and afforded us so much more space. I had invested quite a bit of money into decorations, and my home was just the way I wanted it to be. After so many years of living with old, broken, and dirty items -- my new home was filled with all things new (and some used, but repurposed). I was blessed to be here, and I was relieved to be out from under that burden of debt.

Christmas was good. I spent money on gifts, and I gave freely to my family. I hadn't been able to do that in years, and it felt so good to be able to buy special things to let my family know how much they meant to me, and how much I appreciated their support for me and my choice to leave my home.

So much has changed between then and now. I just signed a second-year lease on my town home, and I am prepared to remain in Phoenix through the duration of my son's education (now thinking ASU instead of North Park in Chicago). I am working as an Analyst at CVS Caremark, and while not pleased with the Welcome Season hours, I am enjoying the work, and I like the shorter commute. I am also blessed with a little more money each month.

I am getting ready to decorate for Christmas 2012, and part of me is feeling nostalgic for the past. I remember writing someplace (probably on this blog) that the last good Christmas I had was in 1982. I was 20 at the time, and working full-time at NuTech Engineers, Inc. in San Jose, CA. I was unmarried, though dating my husband. I was unattached for all practical reasons, not committed to anyone, and at a crossroads in my own looming adulthood plans.

I wasn't happy in my work, but I was glad to be out of school. School then was Evergreen Valley College. I wasn't doing well in classes, and was lost as far as what I wanted to study. My parents didn't want me to drop out of school, but I knew that I couldn't continue to get D-F's without some consequence. I decided to take a break, and that meant working full-time for a while. I liked the money, and it helped me to pay for my then Triumph Spitfire. I liked being an adult, but there was a part of me that wanted so much to remain a child.

I had wanted to study Art, but I didn't like the focus on nudity that was so prevalent in my courses. I was a Christian then, and the Holy Spirit was working hard to keep me pure (Thank you, Jesus!) I changed my major to Audiology, thinking that it would make a good career, but after a horrible experience in Sign Language class, decided it was not the path for me. I considered Psychology, which I greatly enjoyed. However, a bad course in Child Psychology (a weird teacher - very weird), made me reconsider that path as well. I was stuck, and I was lost, and I wasn't listening to that still quiet voice whispering to me, telling me to go into teaching, advising me to become an elementary teacher.

I heard the voice loud and clear one day when I met a friend who was attending San Jose Bible College. This was a friend of a friend, and she was telling me how much she loved SJBC and how she was studying to be an elementary teacher there. She loved the small classes, and the focus on Bible. She encouraged me to check it out. I did, and though the cost was more than what my Community College cost, I was so strongly drawn to this school.

I took the leap of faith and I talked with my parents about it. They were not willing to help me attend this school, and because my Father made so much money, I couldn't qualify for financial aid. My parents said, "Go to San Jose State and become a teacher." Yes, they were correct. SJSU (my alma mater) had a very good teaching program. I was devastated that my parents wouldn't help me go to SJBC, and I couldn't understand how God could be calling me to a school He knew would be off-limits to me.

I ended up staying in my job, and getting involved in relationship in the hopes of feeling better, and no longer feeling lost. In truth, I only made matters worse. My job went bust the next year, and my relationship began to become more involved. I took steps towards adulthood, that now I wish never would have been on my horizon. I did enroll back in school, and I did eventually complete my Associates Degree. I ended up graduating in 1984 with an AA in Liberal Studies, and wedding plans for that fall.

My life was forever changed. Twenty-eight years later, I am blessed with an amazing son, and a good life. It is not the life I imagined, and it is not the life I had hoped. It is what it is, and today, I sit here thinking about the past, and wondering "what if?" Of course, there are no what-if's in God's economy. There is only "been there, and done that"--OR--choices to be made and choices that have been made. With God, all things are possible. With man, all things are possible too. The big difference is that with God the possibilities are blessed and are always for our good. Human possibilities are unknown, and while they can be for good, there is just the same amount of chance, that they will be for ill.

I cannot think back on the past twenty-eight years and wish it away. Like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life," wishing your life were different only means that you wish CERTAIN PARTS (the bad) of your life were different. If you wish is all away, you wish the good and the bad. You cannot make the mistakes in your life go away without losing blessing that may have come as a result of those mistakes.

I know that my son is one of the best things that happened to me personally. His life, his presence, makes the past years worth it all. I also know that of all the mistakes I have made, I have learned great life lessons from them. I am able to use my mistakes to help others from making the same kinds of choices. I can use my experience to bless others -- the good and the bad -- I can be a blessing to others through my life testimony.

Therefore, Christmas 2012, marks a turning point in my life. I am no longer going to look on the past with regret. Yes, the memories of mistakes will be there, but with time, they will fade, and no longer be such a strong reminder to me. Instead of thinking nostalgically on the past, I am choosing to think about all the open opportunities and possibilities of my future. I copied this quote to add it to my signature line in my email, and I think it really sets this whole idea in motion:

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ~Søren Kierkegaard

It is important to be self-aware, to understand your past choices, your past options, and your past mistakes. Life, however, must be lived in the present and with the intention of moving forward. God is a God over all of time, over the past, over the present, and over the future. He wants us to press on, to move forward towards the goal of His Kingdom and of Christ Jesus. He knows that we need to understand our past so that we can learn from it, learn how to handle situations in the present, and learn from our mistakes (to keep from repeating them). He doesn't want us to get stuck in the past, though.

Jesus, in Luke 9:59ff, was the one who said:

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

The Kingdom of God is moving forward, and while we live in the present, we are also to have a mindset of moving forward to follow after the Lord. We are not to be stuck in the past or even the present time to the point where we become immovable.

I have done this for many years. I have lived with past regrets and with the shame of past mistakes. Jesus paid the price for all my sins and all my mistakes. I know this, I know that His Blood covers me completely. Yet, often I get stuck, often I feel as though I am cemented to this timeline, to this way of thinking.

Jesus paid it all, and that price of freedom means that I am no longer stuck, I am no longer lost, I am no longer required to stay in one place. I can move, I can go, and I can follow after my Lord -- with no regrets, no sorrow, and no shame.

Dear Lord,

Today is the day that I choose to follow after you, and that I choose to no longer live in the past, and to think back upon the past. The past is buried in that tomb of the old man (old Carol). The present is active and it is alive with the new man (new Carol). The future, my future is filled with bright hopeful promises and opportunities of blessing. I receive your blessing today, and I think upon all the blessing in my life, and the way in which you choose to bless me each day. May your Name be praised today and forevermore. I thank you, Jesus, for your life. I thank you for your sacrifice, and I thank you for saving me yesterday, today, and every day forward. I praise the Name of the Lord today. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and calmly think about that!!)

November 22, 2012

When Things Do Not Make Sense

I have had a pretty horrible week. Yes, it is Thanksgiving Day, and I should be giving thanks for all the blessing in my life. Instead, I am in a funk, and I feel as though the weight of the world is upon my shoulders. Of course, I know this is not the case. I carry but a thimbleful of the actual burden I bear -- my Lord carries the rest. He always does, and yet, even with my thimbleful, I feel overwhelmed, and unable to press on.

The Word tells us to press on, to keep moving forward (Phil. 3:14). We are encouraged by Paul to know that we are not alone. That every Christian experiences trials and temptations, and that in our life, we will encounter hardship and struggle. We are not isolated, and we are not the only ones to experience pain and suffering.

"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." (1 Cor. 10:13 NLT)

No, we all are being conformed to His suffering, and in that way, we are being remade into His Image and Likeness (Romans 8:29). Trials and temptations are a part of that experience. How we handle these trials is key. Do we give in, sit down, and stew over them OR to we get up, face them head on, and do as Paul suggests: press on toward that goal, to win the prize that Christ has waiting for us at the finish line?

"I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." (Phil 3:14 NLT)

Well, I know the answer. I know what my answer should be -- a resounding YES! YES! Lord!! Unfortunately, I also know what I did, that I chose instead of pressing on, to sit down in the dirt and grovel. I didn't stand in faith, I didn't lift up my Shield of Faith and my precious Sword of the Spirit. No, I sat fully clothed in the Amour of God, and I chose to be overwhelmed and beaten, instead of Victorious in Jesus' Name. I experienced what many of my brothers and sisters experience each day -- I was bested by the enemy, and I sat defeated, dejected, and depressed over my failure to stand firm in Faith in Christ Jesus.

I sit here today feeling the lumps and bruises of a vicious attack. I listened carefully, and I followed what I believed were clear instruction and commands of the Lord. Instead, I found out that in doing so, I was not listening to the Lord at all, but listening to that voice inside my head, the voice that was feeding my feelings of insecurity and exhaustion. I listened and I took steps that didn't move me closer to the goal of Christ Jesus, but that were cloaked in good intentions and in the belief that they would make me feel better about myself, and elevate the pain in my current situation. I did it. I listened. I obeyed, but in doing so, I came to realize that there are times when the Lord asks us to remain still. There are times when we are to endure, to wait patiently, and to be confident in His Rescue. We are not to go and help ourselves out of that pit. We are not to barter or bargain our way out of the suffering. No, we are to remain still, to be silent, and to let the Lord be Glorified in and through our circumstance. I realize it now. I see how it was, and I grasp the significance of my actions. I understand, and I am humbled by the experience. 

The Lord had chosen for me to endure a particular trial. I didn't want to do it, and I was not content to "be" where I was in that moment. I wanted out, and I wanted out NOW. The Lord told me to remain, to be still, to know He was right there in the midst of the issue, that He was with me. I was not content to see His Way. I wanted out, and I wanted the pain to stop. 

In hindsight, I see that all I did in that moment, did not make matters better for myself. In truth, my choices served to prolong my agony, and resulted in a final dosing of battering and bruising. 

The good news is that today, while I may be smarting from that attack, I am able to understand what I did and didn't do. I can plan for the next one, and yes brothers and sisters, there will be a next attack. The enemy doesn't give up on us, and he doesn't go away. He may go bother someone else for a time, but he will be back. He will not give up until the day of the Lord, until the Day Christ returns. So until then, we can be prepared, to be alert, to remain on guard or we can continue to battle-weary and beaten down.

I know now why this attack occurred, and I understand what I did that brought it on. I asked for something of the Lord, some new kind of understanding (a new way to comprehend), and in doing so, I experienced an assault that demonstrated to me that what I had asked for was something to be greatly desired and sought after, something the enemy does not want believers to know and to experience. Yes, I asked to understand the Power of God's Name more fully, more completely. I asked to grasp how significant His Name is, and how His Name works in and through our lives. I wanted to know this power, to experience this power -- not to wield over others, not to become an overlord -- but to really understand victory, and to walk and live in that victory on a daily basis.

The enemy had other plans, and while he bested me this time, God has final authority over the eventual outcome. The enemy, 0; Jesus, 1 (WON!)

I know this is true. I know the Word, and I grasp how important it is for those of us who claim the Blood of Christ to walk in His Victory. When we walk in the flesh, we are miserable. When we walk in the Spirit, we are free, we overcome. I chose poorly. I chose the way of the flesh this past week, and I ended up with a good dose of reality. God is more than the sum total of my pain and suffering. He is more than all my moods, my lack of energy, and my inability to perform well. He is more than anything I could experience, anything I could imagine, and anything I could dream. He can do all things, and nothing is impossible for Him. 

My flesh is weak. It is flawed. I fail miserably, and I suffer torment from my own hand (past choices that brought physical, emotional and mental pain). I suffer torment from the enemy, who delights in my suffering. I give in, I give up, I don't care at times. I say "Enough! No more," and I whine (whimper). I am weak. I am at fault, and I make decisions that are based on how I feel, and not on what is best for me, for my family, or for another person. 

Yes, this is all true. But there is a golden side as well. There is the truth that says that He reigns:

"The LORD is king! He is robed in majesty. Indeed, the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken." (Psalm 93:1 NLT)


"The LORD is king! Let the nations tremble! He sits on his throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake!" (Psalm 99:1 NLT)

No matter how weak and frail I may be today, and no matter how often my body and my spirit will become overwhelmed, the Lord our King sits enthroned in majesty. He is King. He is on the throne, and nothing will make Him move, nothing will shift Him from His Righteous Place. He is Lord of all, Lord over my life, and He is Victorious.

Psalm 150
1Praise the Lord.a
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
5praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

November 18, 2012

Next Steps

What a beautiful Sunday morning! I woke up at my normal time, even though I stayed up until 12:30 finishing up some OT for my job at CVS Caremark. My entire team was required to work OT this weekend, and while not happy about it, we all understand that this is something that has to happen. Unfortunately for me, OT is difficult. I am already living in a depleted state -- energy and health-wise. Between the CFS and the exhaustion from the past several years of intense stress -- I am running on about 25%. I have tried vitamins, changing my sleep habits, diet, etc. Nothing seems to be helping me overcome the fatigue. I am not tired in the sense of having to lay down and take a nap -- it is more a weariness of spirit. I feel low on energy, a lack of interest in wanting to do anything but rest at home. I don't go out, I don't do anything unless I absolutely have to do it.

I was looking into the fridge this morning, and I thought "I have no food in the fridge." When I was living with my husband, we spent a lot of money on food. It always bugged me because my husband would make a list for me to do the shopping. He would say "we need this or that" item at the store. I would go to the store, get what was on the list, and it always seemed we had those extra things -- stuff to make lunch or dinner.

I live off of TV dinners and frozen entrees. I buy what my son will eat so that he eats food at home, and not on the run. I usually take a protein bar or yogurt to work for breakfast. I take a Lean Cuisine or some other frozen dinner for my lunch. At night, I will often make a salad or something really easy -- not time consuming -- to eat.

I miss the days when I didn't have to worry about eating. In the old house, I was always baking or making something to eat. Yes, I didn't like the fact that we never had enough money, but it seemed like there were always baked goods in the house. I don't have time anymore to bake. I am beat when I get up in the am and beat when I come home in the pm. My life is all about work now. I miss the days when I could go to lunch with my parents, or go shopping with my Mom. I miss the days of not having the carry all the responsibility on my shoulders.

I remember crying to the Lord, begging Him to give me the responsibility to care for myself and my son. I was not happy with the way my husband was providing, and while we struggled financially for so many years, in truth, he did attempt to provide for us. Business was never successful. He did try very hard to pay the bills. I see now that often he gave up, just gave in to the fact that there wasn't enough money to go around and that the bills would have to go unpaid again. I am sure this pressure to pay bills, and not having enough to do it, wore him down as well. He did his best considering our situation, and while we didn't have enough back then, we did survive, and we did eat.

I know now how hard it is to be the sole breadwinner in a family. Perhaps 20-30 years ago it was different. Now it takes so much money to support yourself, not to mention a family. I am careful with my money, and still I don't have enough to be "comfortable." I was just saying this to my Mom the other day, how with my new job I still feel as though I don't have enough to go round each month. I am thankful, and I give God the Glory for providing this job to me -- but still it seems like it is not enough for me.

I miss sharing the burden of the family with another person. God is my friend, my ally - He keeps me. However, in a marriage, there are two people who work together to bear each others burdens. It is very hard for a single person, especially when the weight fall heavy upon them. I do miss having that friend to share the load, the walk beside, and to rely on for support. I miss this aspect of marriage very much, and my heart grieves that it will never be this way again.

I don't miss the difficult parts, and I don't miss the sin. However, in Grace, I have come to understand sinfulness, and I am far more aware of just how deeply sin pervades all our lives. We are sinners saved by Grace, and without God's Grace, we would be lost forever from His Sweet Mercy. I am thankful for His Provision, and for Protecting me. God is so very Good to me. He is so very Good.

November 17, 2012

I Am Ready to Go Lord!

It is Saturday, and I have to work! UGH! My team has to put in full-days over the weekend so as to make our production deadline. Personally, I don't mind -- it is not that I have a lot to do. It is more that I have been sick, and that while I am feeling better, the extra work hours could play a factor in my ability to make it through the rest of our Welcome Season at work. I struggle with Chronic Fatigue  so keeping myself healthy is of critical importance. I know that the Lord has me covered, so I am resting in His Sufficiency and Grace. I know He will see me through these extra demands, and keep me well. He is so Good like that -- He is GOOD all the time!

As I sit here and think upon that Good News -- that God is Good all the time -- I cannot help but wonder (yea, marvel) at how marvelous God really is to me. I mean, God has shown up in my life, right when I needed Him most, and He has stuck around. He has stood beside me, and He has not left me. Cool, when you think about it, and even cooler, when you realize that God's Faithfulness and Promises are sure (you can be confident in them).

In Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT, it says:

"Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you."

Again, the writer of Hebrews reiterates this promise, "For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you."

I personally like what Jeremiah 32:40 NLT states about our response to God's Goodness:

"And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me."

God has promised His Goodness to us. He has covenanted with us, made an agreement to keep His part of the promise. In return, we are to worship Him. The great thing about God's Covenants is that He makes a promise to us, and we make a promise to Him (evens); but because of our flawed humaneness  God extends His Grace to enable us to keep our word. God promises and He keeps both sides of the covenantal agreement. He is Faithful, and He is so very Good to us.

So with this in mind, I think about the words of Jeremiah, and I remember what God has done for me. I think about the desires I have in my heart -- desires that include worship, but also that include ways in which I can serve Him and minister to others. God has put His desires into my heart, and my spirit cries out with His Spirit -- yea, and Amen -- so be it, thy will be done. I can no longer separate my desires from His. I can no longer pursue any other desires but the ones He has placed within me. I can try, of course, but then I would have to willingly choose to walk in fleshly ways. This would require a lot of effort on my part, and it would mean that I would have to give a reason to the Holy Spirit (sort of like being sent to the Principal to give an answer for a bad behavior choice). I never liked having to go up to the "office," and since becoming a Christian, I have learned that the Heavenly Office, gives the same sense of dread. Thankfully, my Principal is benevolent, and only desires my Good. Still, I don't want to disappoint Him, and have to give cause for my choice. It is far better to remain in agreement with His choices, and to let Him guide and direct my life. I hope that makes sense.

God is so very Good in that way. He knows what is best for us, and He so desires that we allow His Holy Spirit to guide and direct our ways. God wants to be in every part of our lives, not just our Sunday Worship. He wants to give us direction for every decision we make, for every move we consider. Yet, so often, we do things in our own way, using our own judgment (remember Prov. 3:5-6). We are cautioned against using our judgment to direct our lives. We do it, and then when the result turns out poorly, we run to God, and we beg Him to explain His reasoning for this or that -- OR -- we beg Him to fix the mess we have caused.

I made the decision quite a while ago that every part of me would belong to Him. I chose this path, and I have not regretted my decision. It has proven to be successful, and it has turned out more favorable than I could have ever anticipated. I have had enough experience with God to know that His Way is always Good. His Way is for our best. I want His best in my life, and I am no longer interested in doing things my way. I am blessed. God has shown up, and He has delivered me from the hands of my enemies. His Word is truth (John 17:17b) and I am good.

November 14, 2012

This Is The Day The Lord Has Made...

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. ~Psalm 118:24 NLT

The Lord has promised good to me. I am struggling to trust Him today, and I need a fresh outpouring of His Blessed Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit -- fall afresh on me!
Spirit, Spirit, of the living God hallelujah
I can’t make it without You I need You
So I can walk right, so I can talk right spirit
Holy spirit, fall fresh on me

Holy spirit, holy spirit
I need you to abide in me
In everything I do, in everything I say Lord
I need you in my home
And even when I’m riding down
The dangerous highways I need You I need You
Fall down, fall down
Fall fresh on me
Fall down, hallelujah, fall down
I need You Lord everyday
Spirit, spirit, I can’t make it without You Lord
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me
I don’t want my running to be in vain
I don’t want my living to be in vain
I need You Lord, to lead me

Today is the day the Lord has made -- I will rejoice and be glad in it. Amen, so be it. Thy will be done. Selah!

November 11, 2012

Another Milestone

Yesterday, I took the GRE test for the second time (in 20 years). For months (if not years,) I have dreaded the fact that I would have to take the Graduate Record Exam again. More so, I felt totally unprepared to plan for it, to study for it, and to even get ready to take it.  I read all the books and blogs that said "plan to spend 6 months preparing for it." I thought -- "you've got to be kidding, right?" I don't have six months to study for this test. Yet, every book, every blog, and even the test exam website all said that it was necessary to study for the test.

I did attempt to study, but every time I would begin, something more important would take its place. When the months dwindled down to weeks, I finally gave in, and accepted the fact that I would have to take the test without any prep, and that the only way I would pass it, would be with the Lord's provision of Grace. I had a little confidence in certain sections of the test, and I felt reasonable sure that I would do well on the analytical writing portion. After all, I did just graduate with a Masters in English Literature (with honors). The last two and one-half years prepared me in some ways so I thought I would generally do OK on the verbal reasoning portion.

The math section -- well I knew for certain -- that I would fail it or do so poorly that my overall score would be impacted. I dreaded the math portion most, and the main reason I looked to prep for the test, was to give myself a better chance to get a modest score (given the fact that I barely passed Algebra 1/2 in high school, and only took General Math in college.) I was nervous about the whole process, about how I would or wouldn't do, and it didn't help that these thoughts loomed in my head constantly -- "what if I failed the test completely," and "what if I don't get accepted to Regent University?

In truth, I knew that the Lord was behind me and that this was His plan, so really, not getting into Regent would have to be His Plan as well. I have never thought that was the case, and the Lord has never once suggested that I would not go to Regent -- so with some fear (a lot), I went down to the testing center yesterday morning and took the 4.5 hour test. My suspicions were correct -- this test is probably the most difficult of all the placement tests out there (so the experts say). The New GRE, which I took yesterday, is scored differently than the old test. The top score is 200 now, and the median is 150. The old test scored between 200 and 800. When I took it 20 years ago, I got 750 out of 800 on the Analytical and Verbal portion, but only 250 on the math section (LOL!)

My score yesterday was good. I went into the test blind, but with great faith in the One whom I believed had sent me there. I am pleased with the result, and while not as high a score as I would have liked, it is good enough to satisfy the requirements at Regent. I do not plan on taking the test again (little time plus the outrageous fee rule out any second attempt). All in all, I am relieved, and so very thankful for God for His Provision of Grace. He kept me cool, calm and collected, and gave me the where-with-all to take the test and score mid-range. I am blessed.

What Does This Mean for Me Now?

In short, this means I am down to my last item to tick off before my application is complete. I have to write a short essay (about 750 words) to send in to the department expressing my views on Communication. My plan is to craft a statement of purpose that explores both the current view in communication along with my own plans for how to utilize my studies for Kingdom Glory. God be Praised, and so He shall, if I am accepted into this program!

As I contemplate completing this milestone, I must stop for a moment and reflect back on the past couple years. I have been steadily working towards this next degree, and even though I started planning for it some five-six years ago; truthfully, I am overwhelmed at the fact that I am at this point -- ready to submit my application for acceptance to a doctoral studies program. I see the path I have walked along, but I rarely see or can identify how I actually "walked" on it. It is like that famous poem, "Footprints." I see the path, but my footprints are not on it. I only see His.

He has carried me through so many breakthroughs -- from my marriage failing and into a permanent state of separation -- to graduating from graduate school with a Masters degree in English. He has provided financially, and He has ensured that I was established. So much has happened, so much has changed. On the employment front, I spent 18 months being unemployed, 12 months working part-time in a grueling retail position, and finally 15 months working full-time in a job I loathed, but desperately needed. The Lord chose to release me from this job in September,  and I started working for CVS Caremark -- finally moving into a type of job that suits my skills and abilities (a job I actually like), and one that has a bright prospect for future advancement. God has supported me through the financial hardships, through losing a home due to foreclosure and right on into the success I now enjoy at work, and the peace and comfort I relish in my rented town home. The Lord has provided for my every need, and His will is coming to pass in my life with each new day.

I think about all the personal heartache, the crisis with identity, the loss of vision and confidence in my own self. I look in the mirror now and the person I was is dead and buried. That "Carol" no longer exists. The person I am today is strong and confident, bold and unwavering. I am ready to tackle each task the Lord sets in front of me, and I am reliant upon His Grace to complete it. Truly, I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me!

Today is a New Day, a Glorious New Day

This beautiful, albeit chilly Sunday morning, is the start of a brand new day for me. I have passed the test, overcome the greatest obstacle in my way (at present), and I am on the other side of things now. I am about to submit my application to Regent, and begin five years of intensive training and study to become the very instrument of God's choosing. I will use my experience at CVS Caremark, along with my advanced study not only to further my career (thank you, Jesus,) but also, to work in a strategic capacity to create, to develop and to empower ministry outreach programs. I am excited to be working within the Lord's plan, and to be working within His timeframe. He has everything under control, and He has completely covered me by His Grace. I love the fact that I am surrounded and ensconced in His Mercy -- I have every need met with sufficiency, and I know that my lifeline is attached firmly to the One who holds all things in His Mighty and Majestic and Most Merciful hand. May God be praised today, and forever more! Amen, so let it be. Selah (Pause and calmly think of that!)

November 9, 2012

The Days Are Flying By For Me

It is November 9, 2012 -- I cannot believe that the second week of the eleventh month is almost completed. Wasn't it just August? Oh my, and now, Christmas is around the corner, and the end of another year has passsed by. I know the days go by at the same God-given speed, but this year has seemed to fly by faster than I can recall. My Dad, who is 79, tells me that the older you get, the more the years seem to go by or at the least, the more you seem to notice them. I think he may be correct -- I certainly do feel that way this year (my Jubilee!)

I am finally over an upper respiratory virus/severe allergy attack. I was ill for about a week and half, with the past couple days being the worst yet. I woke up this morning feeling stronger, with a little more energy, and less of that "I am sick and do not want to get out of bed" morose attitude that I have suffered with the last few days. My head is clear, hurrah! My throat doesn't hurt, and I think I can get myself into work, and back to the business at hand.

The business at hand includes taking the GRE test tomorrow morning. I have had to let this go, to let the Lord have the test, the test results, and everything related to it. I am not a test taker, and I do not do well on these kinds of exams. I miss the easiest questions, and I find myself second-guessing all the time. In fact, I would say that my strength is in my ability to write essays, and to discuss verbally. I don't know how much emphasis Regent University places on this exam. The Lord has told me not to worry about it, and when He says "do not worry," usually that means to let it go, and let it be. I have done my best to prepare, and that means not really doing anything at all. I wanted to prepare, and I asked the Lord to prepare. We made plans to prepare, but life intervened, and when it came down to it, I needed the money I would have spent on exam prep materials for life/necessities. The exam was costly enough, so I turned it over to the Lord, and I have let it go.

I will go tomorrow, and I will let the Lord take this test through me. I will relax, and let Him guide me through the exam, and then I will be done. The Lord has asked me to apply to Regent University. He has guided me through the entire process, from beginning to end, and I am trusting Him for this piece of the puzzle as well. He knows me well, and He knows that I do not like these sorts of tests, and that I am not a math person. I struggle with math, and while I can do business math, I am not in a position whereby I have to do financial calculations. I simply am not that kind of person.

I have been created to communicate God's Word through encouragement and the building up of the body. My role is to reach individuals and to help them see the value in studying God's Word, and to learn to trust in it. My entire life has been about one thing, and that one thing has been to encourage Christian's to grow up in Christ. This is all I know, and it is what I have spent the majority of my life doing -- being a builder of people -- and helping them understand just how amazing God is, and just how marvelous His Grace is to us.

Going to Regent is all about communication study. It is what I am to learn next, and it will help me help the body of Christ in my mission (His mission) to counteract the communication style of the enemy. I am to learn the history of communication, and to study the effects of communication style on global mission and outreach.

This is a new field for me. My background is in Humanities and English, so studying Communication will be different, and will stretch me. I am ready, though, if a little apprehensive about the program itself, and courses, and the time commitment. I know God is prepared to do this task, and He walks beside me daily - so together we will attend Regent University, and together we will accomplish this graduate education.

The plans for my life have altered slightly, and I am beginning to see the narrowing of choices. Since starting my job at CVS Caremark, I have come to see new opportunities, and to experience a sharpening of my focus and vision. I see the kind of work that suits me, and I see myself being content in what I am doing (PTL!) I am also seeing a place where I can develop skills and where I can be used to help my company succeed in it's business niche. I see gaps and places where I can fit my abilities in, and with the right motivation, and key people behind me, I can move up here.

There are options that include moving to IL and to RI. I had not considered RI, though I had looked at MA and some other New England states a number of years ago. There are corporate jobs in RI, and these would pay greater salary due to their close proximity to Boston and NYC. The Lord has placed this on my mind as a point of consideration. I am open to going wherever He leads me. He is the One to plant me, and He is the One who says "go here or there." I am ready to go, and I know that wherever the Lord leads, I will prosper.

My life is good. As I consider the days, I realize just how much I rely upon the Lord for my strength. Being sick the past couple days, and feeling so unwell, has also helped to remind me that it is the Lord who performs through me. I cannot do it. I cannot do it at all.

Dear Lord,

I rest in the sufficiency of your Great Name. I trust you this morning, and I pray for good success today as I muddle through my work and plan for the weekend. I rest in your Grace, and I live in your Mercy. I know you are God, and I know that the plans you have for my life are Good. May your Name be Praised today and Forever more. Amen, so let it be. Selah! (Pause and calmly think about that!)